UN envoy condemns Hamas violence against protesters

Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. special coordinator for Middle East peace visits Hebron, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank November 4, 2015. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 March 2019

UN envoy condemns Hamas violence against protesters

  • Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, has been at loggerheads with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the occupied West Bank

GAZA CITY: A UN Middle East envoy on Sunday condemned Hamas for its violent crackdown on protesters in Gaza.
There have been daily demonstrations since last Thursday, as people complain about poor living conditions and high prices.
Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said the “long-suffering people of Gaza” were protesting their dire economic situation and demanding an improvement in their quality of life.
“I strongly condemn the campaign of arrests and violence used by Hamas security forces against protesters, including women and children, in Gaza over the past three days,” he said in a statement.
“I am particularly alarmed by the brutal beating of journalists and staff from the Independent Commission for Human Rights and the raiding of homes.”
It was people’s right to protest “without fear of reprisal,” he added.
The demonstrations — under the slogan “We Want to Live” — started at the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza in response to a Hamas tax hike.
The World Bank says 54 percent of the labor force is unemployed in Gaza, including 70 percent among youth, while the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said 53 percent of Palestinians were living in poverty on less than $4.6 per day in 2017.
The director of the field research unit at the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Yamen Madhoun, said there were no accurate statistics for injured protesters but estimated that at least 150 people had been taken to hospital and that hundreds had been detained.
He told Arab News that Hamas security forces were indiscriminate with their violence. Videos posted to social media appeared to show them beating and verbally abusing people, including women and children.
Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, has been at loggerheads with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the occupied West Bank.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem accused Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) of pursuing a “starvation policy” through sanctions to create turmoil.
“The sanctions of the authority against Gaza intersect with the Israeli siege imposed 13 years ago, (it) is a national crime, and the authority aims to weaken the internal front,” he told Arab News, referring to financial measures imposed by PA to isolate Hamas.
But Fatah spokesman Atef Abu Saif rejected the accusation.
“This is naive, and reflects Hamas’ desire to seek power up to the end against the will of the masses,” he told Arab News.


Iran’s coronavirus death toll rises above 25,000

Updated 7 min 36 sec ago

Iran’s coronavirus death toll rises above 25,000

  • 3,521 new cases were identified in the last 24 hours in Iran

DUBAI: Iran’s death toll from the novel coronavirus rose by 175 to 25,015 on Thursday, the highest in the Middle East, with the total number of identified cases spiking to 436,319 in the country, according to health ministry. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 3,521 new cases were identified in the last 24 hours in Iran.